If it seems like most of my posts are about advocacy recently you are absolutely right. I’ve been doing a lot of advocacy because now is the time to do it. The Virginia General Assembly only meets for a couple months, and it seems like the Autism Society is front loading our 2010 federal advocacy opportunities. It works for me, because I love talking to people about my son. Today’s session was a marathon training session on how to advocate in Congress.

I’m going to condense what I learned into a few simple sentences. There is a lot more, but what I view as the three keys are as follows. Shake hands, introduce yourself, tell folks where you are from, tell your story, ask your congressman to do what you want and follow up later.

Boom. You’re ready to get a job as a lobbyist.

Maybe not quite yet. The bills we are working on are below with links to the AS pages that summarize them. Please take a minute to click and read them. They all make good common sense.

ATAA – The Autism Treatment Acceleration Act – “To improve the quality of life for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families, the ‘Autism Treatment Acceleration Act’ was introduced authorizing federal funding for services, treatment, support and research on autism spectrum disorders.” Senate Bill 819 / House Bill 2413

ABLE – Achieving a Better Life Experience Act – The federal government gives families a helpin hand saving for the future. Senate Bill 493 / House Bill 1205

Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act – This one really speaks for itself. Let’s make this one happen. Senate Bill 493/House Bill 1205.

ToSCA – Toxic Substance Control Act Reform Platform – This one is key, and will be introduced soon. This would require the removal of severely toxic substances and better labeling of other controlled toxic substances. This is a big deal for kids and adults on the spectrum, and humanity in general.

You can always check on these bills and get tons of great information at the Autism Society’s Federal Legislation Page. You can take action right there. Its really a great resource.

We were taught by a number of different speakers who I want to thank here. First off, thanks to Jeff Sell for being the confident and down home emcee. Thanks to Lee Grossman, president of the Autism Society. Thanks Cathy Pratt for your stories and your compassion. Thank you Serena Lowe for your insight and passion. Thanks Dara Baldwin for your perspective and your strength. Thank you to Steve Beck for your work and dedication. Thanks Donna Ferullo for your detailed analysis and intelligent presentation. Thank you Lindsay Dahl for your solid facts and lobbying advice. Thanks Caryn Yavorcik for your media knowledge and PR wizardry. Thanks Chris Kush for your insider knowlege and smart approach. Finally, thanks to the Autism Society staff as a whole for putting this together and helping us help our loved ones, most especially Hannah Cary.

Next segment will come friday as I’m sure I’ll be too exhausted to post tomorrow night. Any support you can give in the form of calls or emails will be appreciated. Make a difference and help take back our government.